European Federation of Journalists
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Colloquium on the role of media actors in confronting terrorism

June 19, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Draft concept paper and programme


In recent times, journalists and other media professionals have faced great challenges when covering repeated terror attacks. New dynamics of terrorism and the move to an increasingly digital and social media environment, with its wide reach and unprecedented speed with which information spreads across online channels, in particular pose a serious challenge to reporting on the issue.

Comprehensive standards set out by the Council of Europe (Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) and the European Court of Human Rights’ case law provide firm leading principles for journalists and other media actors, but also for State authorities, on how to react in such situations of crisis.

Journalists and other media actors have a responsibility to make available accurate and comprehensive information on terrorist acts and potential threats and to avoid sensationalist media reports which lead to the spread of public terror, fear and feelings of chaos. Media coverage can be crucial in stimulating informed debate in situations of crisis. Media professionals can also make a positive contribution to the prevention of terrorism by notably displaying how member states and international organisations respond to these threats.

However, equally importantly in such context, the rights of journalists and other media professionals must be protected, including their right to access information in public interest and the right not to disclose their sources. Also, legislation, including anti-terrorist laws, and how it is applied in practice can give rise to a chilling effect on freedom of expression and public debate.

The Colloquium will bring together media actors and other relevant stakeholders, such as audio-visual regulatory bodies, media self-regulatory bodies, government representatives, civil society representatives and academics to look at:

  • Dilemmas and challenges faced by media professionals covering terrorist acts and threats in today’s changing media environment

  • Use of digital media and platforms and the role of internet actors

  • Regulation/co-regulation/self-regulation responses in such difficult contexts which protect the right to freedom of expression and media freedoms and other fundamental rights

It will serve as a forum where participants, mainly from European countries affected by terrorist attacks or threats, will exchange and examine experiences, present case studies and discussing inspiring practices. They will also look at ways to reinforce collective commitment to keep the public informed without contributing unduly to the impact of terrorism.


08:30 – 09:00                     Registration and welcome coffee

09:00 – 09:15                      Opening remarks:  Mr. Jan Kleijssen, Director of the Information Society and Action against Crime Directorate, Council of Europe

09:15- 09:30                        Keynote speeches

Mr. Renaud De La Brosse, Professor, Department of Media and Journalism, Linnaeus University (Sweden), URCA (France)

Mr. Chris Banatvala, Director, Bear Consultancy Ltd

  • What are the challenges brought by the dynamics of modern terrorism in particular in today’s changing environment (terminology used in the public discourse, sensitive nature of media reports on terrorism, media strategies used by terrorists, changes brought by the dissemination of information on the Internet, restrictions on the provision of information and opinions in the media about terrorism under the pretext of fighting terrorism)?
  • How the media dealt with these challenges when reporting on the recent attacks in Europe and beyond?
  • What are the effects of media reports on society and on terrorism itself?


Session 1 – Reporting on terrorism acts and violence : dilemmas ad challenges

09:30- 11:30                        Panel discussion 1: Challenges and responsibilities of journalists and other media actors in their professional practice

Main focus of discussion:

  • Challenges to journalism such as respect of human dignity, use and verification of sources of information, reporting for the public interest, threat posed by sensationalist coverage of terrorism, maintaining competition for attention and advertising, protection and safety, etc.


Mr. Chris Elliott, Journalist, The Guardian

Mr. Jean-Pierre Jacqmin, News Director, RTBF

Mr. John Battle, Head of Compliance, ITN

Mr. Sébastien Georis, Journalist specialising in judicial investigations and terrorism, RTBF

Mr. Nasreddine Louati, Program editor, Al Jazeera

Moderator: Mr. Jean-Paul Marthoz, Journalist, member of the Committee to Protect    Journalists

Followed by a Question & Answers session


11:30 – 11:45     Coffee break


11:45-13:00                         Panel discussion 2: Use of digital media and the rights and responsibilities of actors on   the Internet

Main focus of discussion:

  • Challenges brought by the use of digital media by terrorist groups in their communication strategies
  • Understanding the rights and obligations of each actor on the Internet, including states, media representatives, Internet intermediaries and civil society.


Mr. Madjid Zerrouky, Journalist, Le Monde – international service

Ms. Erin Saltman, Policy Manager for Counterterrorism and Counter Extremism for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Facebook

Mr. Pierre-François Docquir, Researcher, Senior Legal Officer, Article 19

Mr. Tom Law, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Ethical Journalism Network

 Moderator: Ms. Silvia Grundmann, Head of Media and Internet Division, Council of Europe

 Followed by a Question & Answers session


13:00 – 14:30     Lunch break


Session 2: Striking the right balance between regulation and self-regulation

14:30 – 16:30                     Panel discussion 3

Main focus of the discussion:

  • What are the main implications for relevant stakeholders in balancing the right of the public to be informed, journalistic freedoms and fight against terrorism?
  • What kind of regulation and self-regulation are required? What is the role of the regulatory authorities? What is the role of self-regulation in this context?
  • How to promote voluntary adhesion to the highest professional standards? How to enhance journalists’ know-how to provide accurate and pluralistic information on the terrorist issue?
  • Which other measures will help media to foster a culture of tolerance?
  • How to respond to the challenges and opportunities brought by the use of digital media?


Mr. François Jost, Professor Emeritus in Information and Communication Sciences, Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3

Mr. Gil Moureaux, Deputy Director of European and International Affairs, CSA, France

Mr. Adam Baxter, Principal, Standards and Audience Protection, Ofcom, UK

Mr. Markus Spillmann, President of the Foundation of the Swiss Media Council and Vice-President of the International Press Institute (IPI)

Moderator: Ms Elfa Ýr Gylfadóttir, Chair of the Steering Committee on Media and Information Society (CDMSI)

Followed by a Question & Answers session


16:30 – 17:30     Wrap-up session – Reinforcing collective commitment: how?


Mr. Jean-Paul Marthoz, Moderator Panel discussion 1

Ms. Silvia Grundmann, Moderator Panel discussion 2

Ms. Elfa Ýr Gylfadóttir, Moderator Panel discussion 3

Moderator: Ms. Corina Călugăru, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Moldova to the Council of Europe and Thematic Co-ordinator on Information Policy (TC-INF)

Concluding remarks: Mr. Patrick Penninckx, Head of Information Society Department, Council of Europe

18h00 – 19h30                    Reception


Strasbourg, France + Google Map